Karachi: The Sindh Assembly unanimously passed into law a landmark bill aimed at establishing a proper institutional mechanism to provide protection to journalists and media practitioners in the province and to save them from threats and harassment in the line of duty.
After adopting “The Sindh Protection of Journalists and Other Media Practitioners Bill-2021”, Sindh has become the first part/province of Pakistan to have a separate law to protect journalists and media persons.
The newly passed law states that the government has to take effective steps to ensure that every journalist and media practitioner’s right to life, safety, as provided under the Article 9 of the Constitution of Pakistan, are safeguarded.
The government will ensure that effective measures are taken to protect journalists and other media practitioners from the acts of violence, the law further states.
It says that the government will take steps to ensure that the counter-terrorism or security laws are not utilised arbitrarily to hinder the work of journalists and other media practitioners.
“No government official, agency or institution will force, induce, compel, coerce, or threaten any journalist or other media practitioner to disclose the identity of the professional sources of information,” says draft of the law.
It adds that no act of harassment and violence committed against journalists or other media practitioners will be exempted from immediate and effective investigation and prosecution.
The law provides establishing a commission to ensure protection of journalists. The commission will receive complaints related to the incidents of violence, threats, intimidation, harassment against journalists and media practitioners.
In his statement after adoption of the bill, Sindh Information Minister Syed Nasir Hussain Shah greeted the journalists and media workers of the province that a law had been passed to ensure their safety and security.
He said that the Sindh government had taken the lead in the country by adopting a comprehensive bill to ensure protection of the media practitioners.
He said the concerned senior journalists, media experts, and representative bodies of the media persons had been consulted to prepare the new law.
The Information Minister assured the media persons that the Sindh government would soon establish the commission to ensure protection of the journalists.
He said that the new law would ensure protection of the journalists while performing their duties.
He said the Sindh government would provide legal assistance to the journalists affected by the acts of violence, threats, and intimidation.